5 Worthwhile Books

Lisbeth Books

I read a lot. People consistently ask me what I’m reading/have enjoyed, so I’m going to make an effort to tell you on a regular basis. I hope you find these recommendations helpful, and I hope you’re able to find a few minutes for reading in your busy life. 

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr: Set in Europe during World War II, this novel is a gem. Don’t be daunted by the page count. Doerr is deft in his writing and constructs short chapters that alternate in viewpoint, which keeps the reader’s interest and keeps the novel moving. I found myself getting up earlier every morning so I could sneak in a few extra chapters. I gave this book as a gift to my 87-year-old mother, who allocated herself a month to read it. She finished in 8 days—it’s that compelling.

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke: A nonfiction classic, and a book I return to repeatedly in my life. Rilke is unique in his advice on love and life and the human spirit, including some great thoughts on solitude and togetherness. His words are a soothing balm across time. You probably already know this passage: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” He wrote that and much more. A book worth having in your library.

“Fun Home” by Allison Bechdel: A best-selling graphic memoir, and now also a Broadway musical. This is an interesting read that explores a young gal’s relationship with her late father. I knew nothing about this book until I read a recent news article that said some conservative freshmen at Duke University refused to read the book (due to its sexual depictions, i.e. there are gay people in it and they’re not shamed). So, I  bought it to find out what the fuss was about, and was pleasantly surprised at the sly depth and humor I found here.

“The Laws of Simplicity” by John Maeda: This nonfiction book is a brief rumination on design and simplicity. What constitutes simplicity? How does it figure into good design? How does that correlate with your life? I discovered this little gem (see Maeda’s Ten Laws) one afternoon while browsing in the Museum of Modern Art with an extremely disinterested girlfriend. (That relationship didn’t last but I was so glad I found this book!) Maeda’s work is the sort of thing where you read a few lines and toss them about in your head all day, then you find yourself staring at your iPhone and going “Oh … I get what he’s saying.”

“The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery” by Sarah Lewis: It’s difficult to describe what this book is other than to say it’s wonderful. You’ll find yourself reading and pausing and thinking on skill and art and triumph and failure and the human spirit. The lessons and discussions here are applicable to sport, work, love, and life. I underlined often in this book: that’s the mark of a good read for me.

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Lisbeth Books

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